Looking to 2021 Session, COVID Looms Large

July 20, 2020 By: Bob Atlas

Last week marked four months since Maryland’s first case of community transmission of COVID-19. In that time, our professional and personal lives have been upended by the novel coronavirus. That now looms over our 2021 legislative session.

The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in our state health infrastructure and supply chains. It cast much needed light on a long-time pattern of racial and health disparities in our communities. And it devastated the state budget more quickly than did the Great Recession.

The Board of Public Works recently voted to slash $413 million from the state’s FY 2021 budget. About half, including a proposed $35 million boost to the Medicaid deficit assessment and cuts to provider payments, requires legislative approval. MHA opposed cuts that harm our field or the most vulnerable Marylanders.

Yet, even optimistic forecasts include a 12% cut to planned spending over the next two years.

This year, MHA secured budgetary victories—doubling the size of the physician Loan Assistance Repayment Program and lowering the Medicaid deficit assessment. In this economic downturn, we will turn our advocacy to the budget committees to secure resources the health care field needs. And of course, we will continue to champion other hospital priorities such as liability reform.

Our message is clear—a strong health care system is essential to protect the health of Marylanders and to respond to the next emergency.

Maryland’s legislative session is just 90 days long, but MHA advocates year-round on your behalf. With just six months till the General Assembly reconvenes, we are laying the groundwork for meaningful wins in a very challenging session.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO

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